I was pleased with this comment I wrote over at Echidne's place, so I thought I would transplant it here, too. The discussion ["The Concept of Non-Ownership" (by Phila), Saturday, November 01, 2008] was of interest too, I strongly recommend it.
A McMansion is not really bigger than a smaller house, it is just more enclosed air, yielding a feeling of distance in a space whose usable dimensions are not much changed. Not having the power of flight, humans can only use the ground level of the lofty living and dining rooms. A big kitchen is nice, but who needs room enough for five pin bowling? And the extra cost (and taxes?) are at the expense of a very small amount of builder's time and materials.
I am looking and hoping for a style of house design drawing inspiration from ship living quarters. For instance, at a very small cost in floor space, all interior walls could be storage space -- double walled cupboards everywhere, better sound muffling, less fighting over hanger room.
Second, the disappearance of public space. More and more there are no places to be, except on someone's sufferance. I read an interesting online article last year about how libraries are becoming the de facto commons (and often daytime shelters) for people with no home, no money, and not enough legitimacy to hang out at the mall. You can read it here: http://www.alternet.org/story/50023/
Food, clothing and shelter are necessities, of course, but you can do without them for certain lengths of time. But someplace to be -- that's as essential as air.
I once read a story about a world where all land was owned and walled, and there was a caste of nomadic homeless who lived and traveled on the tops of the walls, there being nowhere else they could lawfully be. This may not actually happen as depicted, but increasingly it is the case in fact.
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